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Josquin des Prez

Updated on January 3, 2011


Josquin des Prez, a Flemish composer, was a major figure in the transition between medieval and Renaissance music.

Other spellings of his second name include des Pres, Depres, and des Prez.

A master of contrapuntal technique, Josquin went beyond the brilliant application of the musical conventions of his period to create music imbued with spontaneity, freshness, and deeply personal feeling. These qualities, combined with his gift for rich, expressive melody and his concern for delineating the subtle nuances of the texts of his masses, motets, and chansons, aroused the widespread admiration of his contemporaries and foreshadowed the work of such distinguished successors as the great Renaissance composer Roland de Lassus.

Josquin was equally skilled in sacred and secular music composition. About 20 of his masses are extant. The best known of these include La Sol fa re mi, L'Homme anne super voces musicales, and Mater patris. Many critics feel that Josquin's finest and most original work is found in his more than 100 motets, psalms, and hymns. One of the most memorable of these is his psalm Miserere, written at the request of his patron Ercole d'Este, duke of Ferrara. Josquin also wrote a sizable body of secular music, notably chansons, which range from light and witty to pensive and dramatic, including the moving Nymphes des bois, an elegy on the death of the Flemish composer Jean d'Okeghem, an older contemporary, who may have been his teacher.

Josquin was born in Hainaut, Burgundy, about 1440. Little is known of ills life until 1459 when he joined the choir of Milan Cathedral. In 1472, still in Milan, he entered the service of Duke Galeazzo Maria Sforza and later, that of the duke's brother, Cardinal Aseanio. From 1486 to 1494 he was at the papal chapel in Rome. Subsequently he spent time at the court of Ferrara and also served in the chapel of Louis XII in France.

Toward the end of his life he was provost of the cathedral chapter at Conde-surl'Escaut.

He died there in 1521.


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    • Several Composers profile image

      Several Composers 7 years ago

      In musical composition, contrapuntal techniques are important for enabling composers to generate musical ironies that serve not only to intrigue listeners into listening more intently to the spinning out of complexities found within the texture of a polyphonic composition, but also to draw them all the more into hearing the working out of these figures and interactions of musical dialogue. A melodic fragment, heard alone, makes a particular impression; but when the fragment is heard simultaneously with other melodic ideas, or combined in unexpected ways with itself (as in a canon or fugue), greater depths of affective meaning are revealed. Through development of a musical idea, the fragments undergo a working out into something musically greater than the sum of the parts, something conceptually more profound than a single pleasing melody.

      Source: Wikipedia

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 7 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      could you explain what the contrapuntal technique is?